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Dr. Alicia B. Harvey-Smith is helping to rebuild regional economy through Pittsburgh Technical College’s applied and technical learning.
At Pittsburgh Technical College (PTC), education isn’t solely based around learning in a classroom. It’s about real experience that helps students grow personally and professionally.
“I was drawn to PTC for its commitment to producing workforce-ready graduates,” says president and CEO Alicia B. Harvey-Smith, Ph.D., who joined the institution in 2019. “PTC is where knowledge meets know-how. Our learning is immersive, project based, and as real as it gets.”
Founded as a lone building in downtown Pittsburgh in 1947, the school has transformed into a regionally accredited, degree-granting college with more than 30 programs across its picturesque, 185-acre Oakdale campus. Now, the nonprofit institution is also the college of choice for technical and applied education students with programs ranging from Business and Information Systems and Technology to Culinary Arts, Healthcare, and Trades Technology.
The transformation doesn’t end there. PTC went from never receiving a single dollar for grant funding to earning an over $1 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in 2021 to enhance cybersecurity and STEM programs at PTC and in the surrounding community.
It’s grants and donations like these that mean so much in supporting the students in achieving a hands-on and affordable education through scholarships.
With 15 specialty labs and 44 learning and simulation labs featuring real-world environments, PTC students enjoy enhanced opportunities to master the skills, tools, and equipment they’ll need for the future. The campus also features a 170,000-square-foot main academic building and 150,000-squarefoot Energy Technology Center with welding, commercial electrician, and HVAC labs.
But the newest gem at PTC is its Corporate College. “Establishing our Corporate College division allows a much wider audience to reap the benefits of our stellar faculty, state-of-the-industry labs and facilities, and workforce connections,” Harvey-Smith says.
From energy to manufacturing, digital technology, health care, autonomous automotive, and a wide range of other industries, the Corporate College provides diverse educational programs designed for the future.
“We look to the local workforce and beyond to determine specific programming needs. Our connections to business and industry are critical in aligning our curriculum with workforce demand,” Harvey-Smith adds. “That’s how we provide solutions and opportunities that help industries succeed in today’s knowledge-based, high-tech economy.”
Beyond that, the Corporate College’s industry ties also create significant advantages for students. “With an average 25 years of workforce experience, our expert staff are handpicked. They’re not only leaders in their field; they excel in teaching and passing their knowledge onto others,” she says. “It’s hands-on, experiential learning that sets PTC apart.”
Despite the impressive capabilities and size of PTC’s campus, students enjoy direct engagement with staff and a personal touch from enrollment through commencement. Plus, the institution’s career services staff helps students acquire program-specific internships and in-field job placements. In fact, PTC has an average 93% in-field job placement rate for the past five years.
“Students don’t just get jobs after graduating. They enter into careers specific to the academic credentials they’ve earned,” Harvey-Smith says. “Lots of colleges claim to be career focused. But they’re only catching on to what Pittsburgh Technical College has provided for 75 years.”